Proxy (4 stars)

Proxy

A mother and daughter's deadly struggle in post-Katrina USA

Directed by Colin Watkeys and written and performed by Caroline Burns Cooke, Proxy is a one-woman show based on a true story that tells of a mother and daughter struggling to survive in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

Dee Dee is an ex-beauty queen whose daughter Gypsy suffers from all manner of ailments. They are regular benefactors of charities, including the Ronald McDonald charity and Disney's Make A Wish Foundation. But the reality is that the worst thing afflicting Gypsy is her mother, and as the nature of the parent-daughter relationship is uncoiled, Proxy leads the audience unflinchingly towards the darkest of conclusions.

The show starts and ends with 'When You Wish Upon a Star', the song from Disney's Pinocchio. As with the recent film The Florida Project, Proxy derives considerable power from tapping into the way that grim social realities fall short of the Disney dream, and how the yawning charm between harsh actuality and cartoon fantasy can be impossible to bridge. To capture this, Burns Cooke gives a strong, meaty turn as the various characters; while nodding towards various wicked step-mothers, she manages to locate the pulse of the women involved without resorting to caricature.

With warnings about intensity and darkness, Proxy is a good example of how a show can make limited resources go a long way; it's not easy conjuring tragedy from a bare stage with only a few lighting changes, but Proxy manages to spin a heart-wrenching yarn, riddled with genuine pathos.

Gilded Balloon Teviot, until Aug 27 (not 13), 11am, £8–£9 (£5.50–£7.50).

Proxy

  • 4 stars

Face to Face Festival Presents Written and performed by Caroline Burns Cooke and directed by Colin Watkeys. The creators of the five-star, Argus Angel Award-winning production And the Rope Still Tugging Her Feet, inspired by the Kerry Babies saga. 'Dark, enthralling, and unremittingly entertaining' (Argus, Brighton).

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